Since both my husband and I work in construction, we’ve realized first-hand how rewarding it can be to work with your own two hands, creating something of use for ourselves or someone else. This line of work has taught us the value of self-reliance, and it’s something that we endeavor to instill in our kids on a daily basis. Considering that many young adults lack the ability to do much on their own, self-reliance is a life skill that kids will benefit from when they’re older. Here’s what my spouse and I have done to get our kids to be more self-reliant:
1. Give your kids projects in which they create or build something useful.
I think the best way to teach any value is to demonstrate its tangible usefulness. Self-reliance is, of course, a state of mind, but this state is cultivated through practice. Whether it’s helping your kids cook a basic meal, helping them build a simple piece of furniture, or showing them how to sew or crochet, demonstrate to kids that they can actual create something they can use. Not everything must be bought.
2. Give children advice, but let them fight their own battles.
Too many parents feel as though any time their kids encounter any sort of personal struggle, they have to step in. Whether it’s related to struggles in school or struggles with their friends, it’s best to give advice, but allow your kids to act on it. They’ll feel more confident of themselves after they’ve overcome struggle on their own, which is a keystone of self-reliance.
3. Go camping often and teach them basic survival skills.
Even if you aren’t much of an outdoorsy type yourself, taking your kids on a camping adventure is an incredible bonding experience that, at the same time, teaches your children self-reliance. Teach them how to start a safe fire, how to forage for food, and other basic outdoor survival skills. If you aren’t up to teaching them yourself, have them join groups like Boys and Girls Scouts.
4. Let your kids fail. But be sure they learn from it.
Again, too many parents are terrified of allowing their children to fail. Part and parcel of developing self-reliance is developing thick skin, which only can be learned through failure. Whether it’s failing in school, an extra-curricular activity, or in their social lives, allow them to fail then talk about the experience and what they can learn from it.
Of course, self-reliance is something that really takes a lifetime to learn and develop. But if you give your kids an early start, they’ll be much more successful when they first leave the nest. Good luck!
Having had her fair share of construction management jobs, Kristie Lewis considers herself an expert on the subject and regularly writes about it. Send your questions and feedback to her at Kristie.firstname.lastname@example.org.